Positive Thinking (Part Four)

Steph Wagner MS, RDN

February 28, 2019

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Staying positive in a weight loss journey

When post-op progress feels like it’s taking forever


Before and Afters

Do you ever take a “before” picture, but never feel like you’re truly at your “after” picture? Maybe you take some photos along the way, but do you always feel like you have more to go?

You see the before and after photos on HGTV but the typical home improvement project takes far longer and is less glamorous than what is shown on television. You may hear other stories of how much weight someone lost quickly and see the before and after photos, yet struggle to believe that could be true for you.

The struggle we have with before and after is that we see after as the end. The end result. The end prize. The trophy. We also see it as when life will really get fun.

Even though we know it’s true, we have to remind ourselves: there is not  a finish line.

As long as we have breath in our lungs, we will always need to be caring for our bodies. We will always need to give it sleep, water, nutrition and exercise.

A healthy perspective in the losing phase

Certainly weight loss surgery patients are reaching their goals everyday! The after photos really DO happen! The struggle is more on the side of patients in the midst of their journey looking constantly towards the end.

Even those who do reach their goals sometimes find they have decided to lose a little bit more or they realize quickly how easy it is to get too comfortable and the healthy habits start to slip.

While I will be the first one to say that life in the maintaining phase is certainly enjoyable, I feel it is a smoother transition from the losing phase to a maintaining phase when you focus in on how you view the losing phase. 

If you find yourself focusing a lot of your attention to a certain goal weight.

If you find yourself thinking ‘once I get the rest of this off.’

If you find yourself saying how much you’ve lost and then quickly adding how much more you have to lose.

I challenge you to take a moment and reflect on where you are right now. Spend a few minutes recalling your life a year ago. What were you thinking about? What were your worries? What would you tell the you a year ago?

You might think, gosh if only I could tell myself a year ago how much different things would be…

When you stop to thank yourself

When you stop and spend time loving yourself and thanking yourself for what you have done, for you, it can be a very positive experience. Even if your journey was not the smoothest one at times, you can tell yourself how strong you were and thank yourself for enduring hard things.

It is my belief this makes a big difference in how you view the after. If you grow this habit of seeing how far you have come and talking to the past you, thanking yourself for your own hard work, you develop a conversation of love towards yourself. When you do share how much you have lost, you may pause a moment and smile even if you do want to finish the statement with, but I would like a little more.

You may even start to truly believe that what you are doing now are the things the future you would thank you for. You will have been in the habit of remembering and thanking.

Perhaps you do something like this at New Year’s Eve or your birthday. You look back at the past year and think through what events or changes happened. What if this was a more common habit? You climb a flight of stairs and stop at the top and smile at the fact you would not have done that in the past. You bend over to tie your shoes and take a little extra time because you clearly remember how difficult that task was once upon a time.

Not unlike marriage

I have often used marriage as an analogy for the weight loss surgery process. When someone is considering bariatric surgery that is the dating phase. One might ask themselves, do I even like this? Is it going to be worth moving forward?

Then the approval from insurance. The ring :)

The surgery date is set. The wedding date!

Then the honeymoon period begins. We really do call it the honeymoon phase, if you have not heard about this, here is a video blog where I answer the question “Can I still lose after the honeymoon phase.”

I often use this analogy for a pre-op patient because I want them to take their dating season seriously. I want them to lay down the foundation for a healthy marriage.

As a post-op this is where the analogy continues. When you watch a romance movie or read a romance novel (my own guilty pleasure) you notice quickly that it ends in the couple getting together but rarely does the story go on. It is not as exciting to hear about the daily life of the married couple. No one wants to read about the date night out with the babysitter at home!

The excitement of course wears off. Just like a marriage, it takes consistent work. You don’t get a place of ‘after’ when you’re married. You have highs and you have lows. You have fun and you have frustration. You have laughter and you have routines. It is not flashy, it is just everyday life.

You likely will not hear a married person say with a serious tone ‘we have been married 15 years but we have a lot more to go.’ It can be a sweet and playful comment but not often the way marriage is truly described!

My personal belief statements

I have been sharing a few of my personal belief statements as a Christian for those who follow Jesus and enjoy encouragement from a faith based perspective.

Jesus talked about giving life…and life abundantly (John 10:10). Certainly we want to live life fully throughout the journey and not just focus on life feeling more full “once I get there.”

He wants you to call on Him for a spirit of JOY in the here and now. He is faithful to complete the work he has started in you! He is worthy of your trust in the future. He is also ready to celebrate with you and hear thanksgiving to Him for what he has done in your life.

He would love for you to reflect and recall the prayers you have asked and how He has specifically answered them. Reflecting and thanking HIM is even more powerful than thanking ourselves. It strengthens our faith and trust in the Father and encourages us to ask humbly for more. He is delighted to hear your praise and thanksgiving, and your requests.

Jesus promised to be with us always. That He is on our side. That when everything else fades, His love with remain. He is also trustworthy. If we ask Him for help in making progress in this journey, we can trust that those prayers do not return void. Thank you Lord for your constant faithfulness to us.

Action Steps:

⇒ Take a look at pictures or events that remind you of one year ago today, and five years ago today. Take a moment to put yourself in those past moments and what you were worried about. If you’re a Christian, thank God for how he brought you through those worries and how he specifically answered your prayers.

⇒ Consider the other areas of life that take a long time for the consist work to pay off. Your home improvements, your savings account or your education or career. It can be helpful to remember the big picture that all things take time and consistency.

⇒ Remind yourself what you may say to your own child that is frustrated with how long something is taking. What encouragements would you have for a loved one you are raising or mentoring?

6 thoughts on “Positive Thinking (Part Four)”

  1. Thank you for this. I feel I won’t complete the journey and I know I will. Again thank you.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. The analogy of a marriage is so spot on. I took 6 months of dating phase, to prepare myself for the marriage of bariatric help. I had an ESG. I needed to know that I was fully prepared to eat small and correctly “after the event”. I truly thank that my journey has been helped by taking the time at the start to prepare. (A bit like a pre-marriage course). I have seen people not prepare and not succeed. It’s sad. I’m so grateful for messages like yours that support us and encourage us to run the distance. It’s a journey for life, one that I never want to let go of. I never want to visit the old me again. I have a photo of the new me on my screen saver of my phone to remind me “this is now”. xxxx

  3. How I needed this today! What encouragement to look back and see all the ways God has answered prayers and “we” have achieved great small things together! And will continue! My focus has shifted, thanks to your words. Well done, Steph.

  4. Thank you for this encouragement. I was raised in a strict Christian home, my Dad was a preacher and both parents taught in the school system my sisters and I attended. As an adult I struggle with many aspects of life, 7 years out and still learning to be a widow, 1 year out and just learning how to deal with Parkinson’s, so how do I cope, I create more stress by having surgery.!! Did I need to do this, most definitely!! I am facing retirement and wanted to get off of as many medications as possible. So far, I am off Metformin and Victoza. I still struggle with elevated blood sugars but am determined, with God’s help, to overcome this. I am commited to learning what to eat and what to avoid. I appreciate the time, effot and thoughtfulness you put into your work on this site. Also, thank you for having the courage to include your faith as part of what you post. My study verse for today was Philippians 3: 7-14. Thank you again and God bless you!!

  5. Thank you to each of you for these comments! I’m so thankful you’ve enjoyed these words and taken the time to share with me! :)

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